Overview and Introduction:
The eMachines W4620 is a value notebook, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, and is available in most Wal Mart stores, or online at www.walmart.com. eMachines was recently purchased by Gateway. Historically, eMachines laptops have been made by Arima, and this unit is no exception, as it is stamped on the bottom of the unit Arima M622-UK8X (http://www.arima.com.tw/ViewProduct.asp?View=134) eMachines has yet to put this laptop on their site:
My personal impression is that this laptop is a thin and light value-performance notebook.
This laptop comes equipped with:
Reasons for Buying:
I was looking at this unit as a replacement for my eMachines M5310, which I had excellent luck with. I felt the first eMachines unit I purchased was up superior value, and the quality build was also comparable or equal to other manufacturers I looked at, such as Dell, HP, and so forth. I did have a couple overheating issues with that PC, and eMachines went out of their way to fix it, even out of warranty. I never stayed on hold more than 20 seconds, and the call was always answered by a competent technical service advisor who did not run through a script. eMachines always sent customer-foam boxes to have me next day mail my old laptop to them (free to me). Thus, when the time came to upgrade to a faster, more mobile PC with better gaming options, I looked around at many brands, like the Dell B130 (loaded), but for the price, it did not compare to the eMachines W4620
Where and How Purchased: .
I bought this notebook on eBay, new in box, for $715 shipped to my door, and was still eligible for a full manufacturer warranty. This was an excellent deal, as wal-mart is currently asking $895 on their site, and remember at this time they have exclusive rights to sell this notebook, but I feel this may change shortly due to their environmental requirements for laptops sold in their stores.
Build & Design:
The design of this notebook is sleek, light, and fairly square. It's essentially a no thrills design, though the silver-on black really stands out. In terms of sturdiness, I would not rate it very high for the following reasons. The unit's keyboard flexes under light typing. The LCD bezel can be twisted. (play the c|net video with the gateway cousin of this laptop to see this issue here: http://reviews.cnet.com/Gateway_M320/4505-3121_7-31012312-3.html?tag=toc) It is light at 5.5 pounds, and at about 2 pounds lighter than my old laptop I can honestly say the laptop bag is much more comfortable across my shoulder now. The case is made of basic plastic, nothing to impressive in terms of thickness, quality, or texture, though the keyboard-pad is textured. I did have an issue my first week with the bezel around the LCD screen warping in the lower right corner, by the hinge, and sent it back to eMachines. Fortunately, it was fixed and returned within 3 days. However, the LCD is of good quality, with only 1 dead pixel in the corner. I do not see ripples when moving the LCD panel back and forth or pushing on the back of the unit. The hinges themselves seem fairly sturdy, though there are 2 instead of three connection points as with the eMachines M5310. Overall, I give this laptop a 4/10 in terms of outer durability, though the quality of the components seems fine.
The screen on this unit has extraview, and is much brighter than my M5310 side-by-side (now sold, cannot give a comparison shot) One dead pixel is noticed by the windows start bar in windows XP, near the lower-left hand corner. It is typically black and is hardly noticeable. eMachines policy as communicated to me was that screens could be replaced within the first 15 days of purchase with as few as 1 dead pixel, if in the center of the screen. I was told I would get a replacement screen when I sent it in for a new LCD bezel (warped), but it returned with a note stating that it did not meet requirements. Thus, the pixel policy seems to fit under the industry standard. There are some signs of light leak around the lower corner, only at certain times, such as when the windows XP screen saver is on. Overall, I am VERY happy with this screen, and feel it is far superior to all LCD's I have previously owned. The max resolution is 1024 X 768.
I was amazed at the sound quality of the internal speakers, much in part due to the fact that they are downward facing, on the front of the notebook. They are quite crisp, and the bass really depends on the surface they reflect off of. I would recommend external speakers, because I prefer high sound quality, but certainly, these are louder than expected and good for most users.
Processor and Performance:
This computer comes with the AMD Turion 64 Mobile M-32, which operates at 1.8 Ghz and has a 512KB L2 Cache. Boot to the windows screen is average, though I have upgraded this unit to 1 Gig of memory, and this has helped significantly. At 4500 RPMs, the hard drive speed on this unit is disappointing, but it is still adequate for gaming, picture processing and editing, and basic tasks. This laptop came with 512MB of DDR 2700 memory, which is inadequate for gaming on this notebook. When I first received the notebook I was very disappointed by the performance of the graphics processor, but once upgrading to 1 gig any and all problems went away, no more frame rate problems, better resolution and clarity, and more vivid colors and processing. The laptop will occasionally lag after playing short video clips, even when the processor is not in speed step mode. At all other times, the processor is quick, and I find wait times are minimized.
Below are the results gained from running Super Pi (ftp://pi.super-computing.org/windows/super_pi.zip), a program that forces the laptop's processor to calculate Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy:
|eMachines W4620 (AMD Turion 64 MT-32)||2m 36s|
|Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 15s|
|Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 53s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)||1m 18s|
|IBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)||1m 36s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)||1m 48s|
|Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||1m 52s|
|Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 39s|
|HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)||1m 53s|
|Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)||1m 45s|
Keyboard and Touchpad:
The keyboard on this unit has keys that are light and easy to touch, providing a minimal clicking noise when touched. The do feel a bit more "loose" than those on my M5310, but nevertheless, the quality feels confident and the pressure it takes to type is consistent. I've had no issues with pressing buttons but receiving no text on "light" taps of buttons. The keyboard flexes, even under light and moderate typing, which is only visually noticeable, however, it does not instill much confidence in the build quality. The touch pad has a scroll on the side, with two buttons below the scroll pad. It cannot be turned off, so one has to be very careful not to touch it when typing, or they can erase text they are typing accidentally. There is a scrolling button on the right front side of this unit which turns sound up/down/muted. There is one button on the keyboard area that corresponds to system commands other than the keyboard, and that is the on/off button, so there are few multimedia buttons. There are, however, CD buttons embedded in the F row keys that can be used in conjunction with the Fn key.
Input and Output Ports:
This unit has 3 USB 2.0 ports (2 on the left side, 1 on the right front side) This unit also has a FireWire IEEE 1394 port, a memory card reader, a VGA out, sound out/mic in, Ethernet and Modem, and CDRW/DVDR inputs. Unfortunately for me, there is no parallel port for my laser jet printer, though a USB adapter will suit me just fine. I find the layout of the inputs foreign, as I am used to having majority of the inputs on the back of a computer, though on this unit, the battery pack occupies 85% of the rear of the unit.
This unit has 802.11G, with a max 54MBPS, and it picks up signals that friends of mine cannot pick up on campus, or out and about in town. The signal does not drop off, ever, and it has been very quick in usage, picking up signals, and connecting to signals.
The 6-cell battery life is at hours when unplugged, which I am told is low by today's standards, though I know it is better than many older units. I am very happy with the battery life, because this life extends over to heavier usage with the screen up fairly bright. I know that Gateway offers an extended life battery for the sister model they offer (same case design as eMachines unit) on their site (Check for the M320 extended life 9-cell battery here)
Operating System and Software:
The included software with this unit is: Microsoft Works 8.0, Money 2005, MS Digital Image Starter Ed. Trial, Bug Fix, Nero 6, Adobe Reader 7, Power DVD, MS Office 2003 Trial (60 Days), McAfee Internet Security Suite 90 day trial, AOI 6 month subscription. I found the trial software for McAfee easy to use, whereas the MS Office registration was time consuming and inconvenient. I found Bug Fix, a program created by eMachines, to be very good at finding updates for all my installed software, and for my particular notebook. The standard operating system loaded on this unit is Windows XP Home, and it is the only available option from eMachines at this time. A single compressed DVD is included to restore the unit to its original software configuration, and a partition is set up on the hard drive that can also take care of restoring the computer (F11 at startup, when indicated on the screen) Overall, I appreciated the free software, such as MS Works, and appreciate eMachine's Bug Fix software immensely.
As mentioned under the screen section, I had to return this unit in the first week for a warped, bowing out LCD bezel near the right side LCD hinge. It was returned within 3-4 days and I have been a happy camper since. The tech support was friendly, and I was connected after 7 seconds wait time! This IS typical of eMachines customer support, and I believe it is the chief reason they have received customer support awards recently. A 3 year warranty is available on this unit for $129 within the first 3 months, and the sale goes off after that, in which you have until the 9th month of purchase to buy the 3 year warranty for $159. From personal experience in the past, eMachines has fixed the old laptop free outside of the warranty period, however, I feel on this unit I will be purchasing the extended warranty (just in case, and due to the build) Technical support is available in chat, live by phone, and through email. I have found that calling customer support gets you to less competent support, and recommend you exclusively call technical support! This has been the case EVERY time I have called, word to the wise.
I have no complaints regarding this notebook, though I feel it should be shipped standard with one gig of memory (even for a standard user) or it tends to lag.
I absolutely love the weight of this unit, the screen brightness, vividness, and quality, as it does not flicker or become wavy when being touched or used in general. The graphics card, screen, and customer support superceeded my expectations, no questions! Also, the price is fabulous, though for $200 more a similar HP notebook might have a tougher build to it. Nevertheless, this is a thin and light budget performance notebook, and for someone looking for a desktop replacement that will do it all at a budget, I recommend this computer. What do you really like about this notebook and how has it superceded your expectations? I also didn't like the side-positioned USB drives on this unit, but over time, I found it was easier to plug in accessories like a thumb drive this way, versus reaching behind the laptop to plug it in.
This is hands down the best laptop for $715 dollars for the AMD, performance, mobile user! I cannot recommend any other brand to you at this price range either, as eMachines/Gateway and Arima have teamed up to make one of the best notebooks around. If you want a widescreen, don't look here, I would suggest a heavy, solid Dell or HP, but if you want a thin and light performance computer, this is the only computer for you. Available exclusively at: http://www.walmart.com or on eBay search "emachines W4620" from TopmanComputers reseller.
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